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The Civil and Commercial Code: freedom and equality. By Ricardo Lorenzetti

On August the 1st, the Civil and Commercial Code of the Nation celebrates 5 years since its creation.

The main values that we have taken into account in its drafting have been: the protection of personal liberties; consumer protection as a vulnerable subject; the progressive development of children; the right of adults to organize their family life without following an imperative model; Gender equality; defense of the environment; cultural identity; regulation of the contract as a property right for legal certainty in economic relations; the new models of economic law; the cultural identity of our country and our customs.

From all of the previously mentioned aspects, I would like to develop the first item, which has great relevance during these times.

There has been a historical tension between the attempts of the State or of large organizations to control private life and its protection by the Law, which in this case is always a limit to power, whether it is governmental, economic or technological.

This Code begins with the person as the holder of rights and freedoms, and anyone who wants to restrict them must have a legally justified reason. Previously, the idea was the other way round: public order or the reason of state were sufficient arguments for social control.

Now, there is a Copernican investment, based on the citizenship of the 21st century, in the sense that it starts from the construction of a sphere of personal liberties, so that they are developed equally.

These themes will be of enormous importance in the times to come.

The world is getting accustomed to the idea of regulating freedom of movement, of opinion, to the handling of personal data, and to meddling in private life.

Our legislation provides mechanisms to set limits. The human person has the right to the protection of his or her dignity, privacy, personal data, life options, and above all, the person has freedoms.

These personal rights (“personalisimos” as stated in the Civil Code) can be defended through preventive actions, and not only through compensation.

A human person, as the Code establishes it, may require having control of their personal data. Today, there is an extraordinary debate surrounding the behavior of large internet operators, who have become great data controllers, who also have the ability to guide behavior or present news according to a previously determined criterion. In short, a great power over the individual life in debate.

Among many other provisions, the Code establishes that he who arbitrarily meddles in the life of others and publishes portraits or mortifies others in their customs, or disturbs their privacy, is obliged to cease these activities, recognizing possible actions. Many of these scenarios occur thanks to the ability of social networks to disturb or harm and there are existing actions to prevent it.

During the pandemic we’ve got used to contracting through electronic commerce. The Code regulates these distance contracts, between people who are not in the same place, protecting their rights. In particular, it allows the revocation of the contract if one of the parties regrets ir, or that the trial takes place in the domicile of the consumer and according to Argentine law. It used to be different because when you “click” on screen, it is usually accepted to go to trial in another country with other legislation.

For the Code, the human person injured in his personal or familiar privacy, honor or reputation, image or identity, or who is in any way impaired in his personal dignity, can claim the prevention and reparation of the damages suffered.

In short, there are many aspects, such as the one outlined, that deserve to be disseminated.

The Code has been widely accepted, has been applied by the entire Argentine judiciary, assumed by the legal profession, taught at universities, translated into other languages, and has been the subject of scientific conferences in many countries.

Therefore, even with the limitations of the pandemic, without being able to hold the congresses that were planned, we can celebrate this achievement of the national legal community.